Though more students in the United States are attending college after high school than ever before, as many as one in three first-year students don’t return after their freshman year. At Green Dot, we’re helping students build a vision for their life that includes completing college before they even step foot on campus their freshman year.
“It’s not uncommon for a student to attend a college that isn’t the best fit for them or may not match their career goals,” said Janneth Johnson, Director of Counseling and Student Services at Green Dot. “But imagine a scenario where students are thoroughly exposed to diverse majors and career pathways and can test them out at an early age,” said Johnson. To make this a reality, we’ve partnered with local colleges to offer college classes at all of our high schools in California. For example, courses like Introduction to Engineering and Introduction to Administration of Justice are exposing students to potential careers in engineering and law.
“Imagine a scenario where students are thoroughly exposed to diverse majors and career pathways and can test them out at an early age.” --Janneth Johnson, Director of Counseling and Student Services
These college classes are offered in conjunction with the Advanced Placement (AP) courses we offer that can also help students earn college credit. In addition to exposing students to more career pathways and career skills, being dually enrolled in high school and college classes provides them with the opportunity to earn high school and college credit simultaneously. Students can apply their earned credits towards the pursuit of a bachelor's degree, significantly reducing the overall time and expenses associated with postsecondary education. Lastly, dual enrollment provides students with additional exposure to college-level rigor as the courses are taught by college-certified faculty.
“College is always promoted in public education, but with students there is often a lack of connection to the question of ‘Why are you going to college?’” said Johnson. ”By providing this connection to early career awareness and exposure, Green Dot students will be able to have a better understanding of what careers interest them, what a college course feels like, and what the requirements for specific pathways are by the time they are college freshmen.”
A Smorgasbord of Course Options
At Green Dot’s newest school in California, Ánimo City of Champions Charter High School, ninth grade students are honing the vital skill of public speaking through Communications 101, taught by a professor from West Los Angeles College.
In this after-school course, students are learning to define the process of sending and delivering messages, scrutinize feedback, analyze audiences, and most importantly, how to overcome the common fear of public speaking. “When developing our dual enrollment pathway, it was really important for us to offer courses that would help students in their current classes and in the future,” said Tyler Williams, Ánimo City of Champions counselor. “This class reinforces and really hones in on the skills we teach our students, for example the importance of clear communication, how to present yourself, and how to command an audience.”
This semester at Ánimo Ralph Bunche Charter High School (ARB), students are enrolled in Introduction to Engineering, taught by a professor from Los Angeles Trade Tech College. This course reinforces the importance of problem solving and acts as an introduction to developing an engineering mentality. Students are also studying the engineering design process while building the skills necessary to make data-driven decisions, create technical reports, and proficiently use engineering tools.
In the past, Ánimo Venice Charter High School, students have taken psychology, robotics, and communications courses. This semester, students are enrolled in Introduction to Administration of Justice, led by a professor from West Los Angeles College. The course covers the philosophy and history of the criminal justice system and exposes students to criminal law and career opportunities in all aspects of the criminal justice field. “We believe in our students and know they can handle college, but many of them are the first in their family to attend college, so dual enrollment provides them with the confidence that they are indeed capable of succeeding in college,” said Carol Moreno, Ánimo Venice counselor.
To better accommodate its students and families, the dual enrollment courses are embedded within the regular school day as electives. “Our ultimate goal is to offer enough dual enrollment classes so that our students can graduate from Ánimo Venice with a high school diploma and an associates degree,” said Moreno.
College, Leadership, and Life
We believe in the potential of each and every one of our students and have built-in supports that help students better actualize their abilities. Our schools offer regular college tours, workshops to assist students complete additional college registration steps, and financial aid counseling. After high school, our alumni have access to additional supports in the form of summer workshops, support groups, University Mentors, and outreach. At Green Dot, we’re seeking to prepare students for college, leadership, and life. That means not only helping build students’ confidence and perseverance, but also helping them leave high school with two importance pieces of paper: a high school diploma, and when possible, the beginning of a college transcript.